Category News

British family moving to Africa’s smallest island to save its coral reefs

A British family is leaving their comfortable life in London in order to pursue something more. The Seath family, including Karolina, Barry and their two children, are about to move to an island you probably never heard of in a bid to help replenish and revitalize the area’s coral reef, which have been ravaged by the rising sea temperatures off the coast of Africa’s smallest island.

The island in the Seychelles, measuring just 400 metres long by 300 metres wide, will play host to the family’s land-based coral farm, which will only be the second of its kind in the entire world — the other being on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

“We are just a normal husband, wife, and two kids, living the sort of life that most others do… but we felt the need to make a positive change for oursel...

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Another reason to cut down on plastics

marine plastics and debris

Greetings and welcome to Plastic Free July! This month, millions of people across 177 countries have pledged to cut down on the amount of plastic they use. The movement started small almost a decade ago in Australia, but last year more than 250 million people pledged to participate. This year, the annual challenge arrives as plastic is making something of a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Efforts to ban plastic bags in cities across the United States have stalled and some grocery stores won’t allow customers to bring their own reusable bags. Many restaurants are open for takeout service only, and that means disposable containers and flatware. A lot of the masks people wear are laced with microplastics.

While health should be the primary concern during a pandemic, “Caring for the...

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Our Climate and Ocean in Crisis

Starfish on a coral reef in Bali, Indonesia

Climate change is killing the ocean. The ocean has absorbed 90 percent of Earth’s heat over the last 50 years. Warmer waters are causing fish and other species to flee for cooler areas and fundamental and sudden shifts in the ocean ecosystem. The ocean also has absorbed more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels, causing a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity since the Industrial Revolution and making it harder for oysters, scallops, and other shellfish to grow their protective shells.

Climate change has harmed our ocean, but our ocean can still help turn the tide.

Today’s report from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis highlights the need to protect and restore U.S...

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Earth warning signs indicate need for restoration

If there ever was a warning sign from Earth, it happened this week. Siberia, a region known for its unrelenting cold and frigidly unforgiving landscape, hit a disturbing milestone: 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, this is on par for 2020. The year saw the hottest January on record, the second-hottest February on record, the second-hottest March on record, the second-hottest April on record and the hottest May on record. The year also saw the highest levels of carbon dioxide ever recorded in the atmosphere.

Together, the records are warning signs, highlighting the structural changes necessary to break our carbon-emitting habits. Fortunately, many of these changes can be incorporated in green recovery plans.

In the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have an opport...

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Washing machines’ microplastic filters ‘untested’

Globally, an estimated 50 billion garments are cleaned in washing machines each year

Filters can cut the volume of ocean-bound microplastic fibres released by washing machines, a study has shown. However, until now, filters have not been tested under scientific conditions to prove their effectiveness. In the first study of its kind, scientists found that the majority of fibres were removed but up to a third were still getting though. Each year, an estimated 50 billion garments are washed in machines around the globe. Mark Browne from the University of New South Wales, and colleagues Macarena Ros and Emma Johnston, observed: “Facilities that treat sewage divert some fibres to sludge, but no current method of filtration eliminates their environmental release.”

One...

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Endangered Australian fish being sold in shops and restaurants

A worker prepares a fish for sale. Some endangered fish species caught in Australian waters are being sold in shop and fish markets. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Endangered fish species are being routinely sold to Australian and international consumers thanks to a little-known feature of environmental laws that allows for the species to be commercially fished. Under Australian environmental laws, marine species that are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered are classified as “no take” species, meaning they cannot be sold or exported.

But species such as blue warehou, eastern gemfish and scalloped hammerhead, which are eligible for listing, are instead categorised as “conservation dependent”, meaning they can be caught in Australian waters and sold in shops, fish markets and restaurants, or exported, despite being considered threatened.

Marine conservationists have long argued for the removal of this category from Austra...

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One-fifth of Earth’s ocean floor is now mapped

The black is where we still need modern measurements at a reasonable resolution

We’ve just become a little less ignorant about Planet Earth. The initiative that seeks to galvanise the creation of a full map of the ocean floor says one-fifth of this task has now been completed. When the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project was launched in 2017, only 6% of the global ocean bottom had been surveyed to what might be called modern standards.

That number now stands at 19%, up from 15% in just the last year. Some 14.5 million sq km of new bathymetric (depth) data was included in the GEBCO grid in 2019 – an area equivalent to almost twice that of Australia.

It does, however, still leave a great swathe of the planet in need of mapping to an acceptable degree.

“Today we stand at the 19% level...

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Robot Divers Could Use Artificial Intelligence To Save Coral Reefs

Solomon Islands Reef viewed by diver

While scientists have succeeded at restoring some coral reefs, humans alone can’t save all the reefs that are dying across the globe, a NOAA reef restoration manager said this month. Even in the best of conditions, human divers can spend only three or four hours per day working under water, said Tom Moore, coral reef restoration program manager for the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration. And those best conditions are rare.

That’s not enough to halt the collapse of one of the planet’s most crucial ecosystems, Moore said at the EarthxOcean conference: half the world’s coral reefs have died and the rest are expected to perish in this century...

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Divers cut, plant coral off UAE coast to build reef

Coral growing after being transplanted

Off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coral freshly removed from a reef is cut into pieces and replanted by a group of divers in the waters below. The divers, from the Fujairah Adventure Centre, are building artificial reefs they hope will spur a resurgence in sea life degraded over the years by climate change and development.

The small team and other volunteers have planted more than 9,000 corals over about 600 square metres in the past year. Within five years, they hope to cover 300,000 square metres with 1.5 million corals.

“It’s a fertile environment for coral reefs, and this diversity has started spreading and has helped bring back sea life,” diver Saeed al-Maamari told Reuters.

Reefs, developing over thousands of years, are crucial to the survival of many ma...

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Turtles can carry more than 100,000 tiny animals on their shells

A loggerhead turtle grazes on sea grass. In stirring up the sea floor, the animals can pick up tens of thousands of tiny hitchhikers—small animals such as nematodes, crustaceans, and hydroids.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles migrate thousands of miles through the world’s oceans, but they don’t travel solo – research shows they carry surprisingly diverse and abundant populations of tiny creatures on their shells.

A new paper published May 20 in the journal Diversity shows that loggerhead sea turtles carry an average of 34,000 individual meiofauna – tiny organisms smaller than one millimeter – on their backs. One loggerhead carried nearly 150,000 individual animals on its shell, including nematodes, crustacean larvae, and shrimp.

“There literally is a [whole] world on there,” says Jeroen Ingels, a marine ecologist at Florida State University. It’s wild to find “that kind of diversity on another organism.”

Ingels and his team discovered more than a hundred new species of meio...

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